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review 2018-04-21 18:31
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - average
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel - Matthew J. Sullivan

An intricate story of many people all connected through a bookstore and/or their pasts. Lydia has changed her last name and moved back to the city of her childhood, deciding to start over and having somewhat unrealistic ideas that nobody will uncover her secret (including the man she lives with.) That all starts to unravel when Joey, a patron of the Bright Ideas Bookstore, kills himself among the books. Lydia finds him and subsequently inherits all of his earthly possessions - most of which are books.

 

Through these books Joey enlists Lydia in unraveling the mysteries of his death and life. Meanwhile news from the suicide in the store pulls Lydia's past into her present. Through flashbacks and a lot of foreshadowing we learn along with Lydia about surprising and extremely coincidental connections among a cast of characters that previously seemed unconnected. Meanwhile there's this suicide and a baroque bunch of messages from beyond  the grave to unravel. While figuring out Joey's actions, Lydia is forced to face her own past whether she wants to or not. (She doesn't.)

 

There are some real coincidences in this book, but they didn't bother me enough to make me put it down. It becomes pretty clear early on who the villain is, even if his motives remain unclear. Lydia, the main character, can be quite frustrating but I accepted everyone on their own terms and read on. It's a quick read and the mystery changes through the book. Some of the characters are lovely, sadly these aren't the main characters. It is a decent read with a great title. However, I don't know who I might recommend this to, and in the final examination, I just didn't care enough about any of the characters or find their story very compelling.

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review 2018-04-20 22:41
Wonderment in Death (In Death #41.5) by J.D. Robb
Wonderment in Death (In Death Series) - J.D. Robb,Susan Ericksen

A twisted take on the Mad Hatter Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. I wasn't planning on reading this installment, as the novellas in the In Death series don't move the series forward and are just quick snippets of the police work involved in the full length books. When I saw this was available on RB Digital (a service my library uses to borrow digital material), I borrowed and read so I could complete my In Death series reading one more time. 

 

Oh hey look - it's Dr. Louise and Charles! I thought they moved to Westchester the way the recent books don't bother to even to mention them. Nope, they are still alive and well, except they found their friend's dead body and the friend's sister's dead body. Louise called in a favor for Eve to be the lead murder cop on the case. Eve decided to dig deeper on the sister and was able to solve the case before anyone else was murdered. 

 

A quick but fun read.

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review 2018-04-17 18:29
How to awaken the heart: an instruction manual
How to Love the Empty Air - Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

My pals over at Wunderkind PR sent me a copy of today's book and asked that I give an honest review. Spoiler alert: I said yes. :-)

 

How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a collection of poetry which primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother (also a writer) and the grief she experienced after her death. Please don't think it's all doom and gloom and buckets of tears (although there is that too) because she also delves into the pockets of happiness that can be found amidst the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so dear. Cristin speaks to that part of the heart that is attuned to the people in our lives who get us so completely that even the idea that they might not be there pulls the air from one's lungs. From her poem "O Laughter" comes this gem: Sometimes the pain bursts out of me like a flock of starlings. Perfection! If I had to express this book in graph form it would be a steep incline immediately followed by a steep decline and finished off with a steady incline that disappears off the side of the page. Simply put, this is an absolutely lovely little book with beautiful prose and if it doesn't stir your heart I wonder if you even have one. 10/10

 

PS I'd also like to note that 1. I loved the finish on this book. It's like that velvety feeling that some books have and it was an absolute treat to hold it. 2. I enjoyed Cristin's book so much that I'm actively looking to read her other works (including a nonfiction book).

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-04-16 16:52
Rocks -- Befores and Afters (pic heavy!)

Murder by Death asked about some before and after pictures of the rocks I collect, cut, and turn into jewelry.  As it happened, I had some examples handy because I had them out for the studio tour last week.  And I love love love talking about rocks!

 

First is an example of what they look like in the wild.

 

 

Looks like a plain rock-colored rock.  But at the right-hand edge, you can sort of see . . . something.

 

 

Though it's rough and broken, it's kind of quartzy-looking, but with a somewhat waxy consistency.  So you turn it over some more . . .

 

 

 

 

And what you have is a banded agate.  Or at least part of one.  The banding isn't clear in this particular piece because the edge is all broken and dirty and rough.  This was part of one of my estate lots, so I have no idea where it came from, but agates like this are very common around here and pretty much anywhere there's been volcanic activity.  They aren't directly volcanic in origin, but form from water that seeps through volcanic material to dissolve the silica minerals and then deposit them in empty pockets.  I know, I know, TMI.  ;-)

 

This is another rock, one I did find, that I cut to make sure a new saw blade was installed properly.  I knew the rock was mostly the volcanic ash matrix the agates form in, but with a crust of chalcedony on one side.

 

 

You can kind of see the chalcedony -- that waxy-looking quartzy stuff -- on the end, though the other side shows it more clearly.

 

 

As with the first example, the inside is what matters, and I was pretty stunned when I cut this one.  I wasn't expecting anything very exciting.

 

 

 

 

In the picture directly above, you can see the matrix on the right hand side of the slice.  I usually have to trim this off with either the saw or an old pair of side-cutter pliers.  It's fairly porous and somewhat easy to remove most of the time, but it can be very difficult on occasion.  And it will not polish.

 

To give a better idea of the size, since this is larger than the little purple pieces I cut the other day, here it is with my favorite (and only!) Arizona quarter.

 

 

I did a little enhancement of these photos to try to bring out the patterns in the agate/chalcedony parts, but the truth is that when they're dry, they don't show up very well.

 

 

Upper left above is a slice of lavender sagenitic agate from the Sheep Crossing north of Phoenix. Lower center is from Brenda.  The other three are from the Chickenman place.  ;-)  They've been cut on the saw, tossed in kitty litter to get the oil off, then washed in water and dish detergent.

 

These next two show how dirty the little cavities can be.  Some of this is ordinary mud that gets into them over the years/centuries that they're out in the desert, if they have an opening that mud and water can get through.  Some of it is hardened ash that got in when the agates were forming.  That stuff has to be dug out with a dental pick, and sometimes it just plain won't come out.

 

 

 

After they go in the tumbler for six or seven weeks, the rough edges get ground off and rounded, and the exterior surface polishes to a nice glassy shine.  Much of the time, those little cavities turn out to be filled with tiny, tiny sparkly crystals, and they tend not to be affected by the tumbling process.  But I'm not good at capturing them with the camera!

 

 

In the shot above, the stone on the far right has a little depression filled with those tiny crystals, but they wouldn't sparkle for the camera.

 

Because the stones are unique, it's actually not hard to match up a before and an after picture of the same stone. Later today or tomorrow, I'll get some more shots of a few individuals so we can have a reference for particular befores and afters.  But the middle stone above came from a piece of rough that is actually still sitting by the saw.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it.

 

 

 

 

I hope this helps, MbD!  More to come anyway. . . .

 

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review 2018-04-16 16:43
Great Prequel to The Star-Touched Queen
Death and Night - Roshani Chokshi

Not too much to say here besides how much I loved the beginning to Death and Night or how we know them, Amar and Maya.

 

We read about both of these characters in "The Star-Touched Queen" but we get to read about how they met, how Death courted Night, and how she loved him. We know what will happen next (I read the first full book and only came back to read this prequel now) but it was great to read about how they came to love one another prior to Night choosing to leave him in order to be re-born. 

 

Death is cursed to fall in love with a woman who will leave him. So he decides to just marry, but now love his wife. Until he meets Night and knows that she is the right person for him. They have a great dynamic that consists of challenging each other as well as realizing that the other person is truly who they want to be with.


I did like that we got some backstory on the friendship between Night and Nritti. You get to see why Night loves her so much. She's one of the few who is not afraid of Night. 

 

I also loved how we got to see how playful Gupta was with Death. I maybe laughed at him trying to teach Death how to properly court. 

 

The writing was lyrical and made me laugh at times. You can easily see why Death and Night fell for each other. 

 

"We turned our gaze to the heavens and waited. There was beauty in the night, if you chose to see it. Some did. Some didn’t. For some, night was the time of dreams and rest, of balance reasserting itself. For others, the hours crowded between dusk and dawn belonged to the ghosts. I knew what they feared: the uncertainty of nighttime, the lightlessness of those hours that were not the black comfort of sleep but the shadows at the bottom of a monster’s throat. I glanced at my reflection and saw their fear staring right at me. Why could I not be dreams and nightmares both?"

 

“That I think she would make an excellent consort. I want a companion. She wants recognition. It’s a victory for us both and sound reasoning too.” I started walking toward the door when Gupta jogged up to me. “That will be your opening statement? You need to make a good impression. Bees are drawn to flowers, not rocks, for a reason. And that is a ridiculous number of assumptions about someone you don’t even know.”


We get to see how things go in the Night Bazaar which was fun to follow-up with as a setting in this book.  

 

Not too much more to say since this is a novella, but definitely a welcome addition to "The Star Touched Queen" series. 

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